Guidelines for Determining Basic Skills Assessment Policies
While determining a cutoff score in employment assessment is ultimately the hiring employer's responsibility, and should be established before the assessment occurs, some guidelines in that area may prove to be helpful.
The results received from testing scores in reading and math skills may include a raw score, a percentile, a stanine, a grade level or a combination of the above.
The raw score indicates the number of items a candidate scored correctly out of the number of items that were on the test.
The percentile refers to the rank at which a candidate fell in relation to the rest of the population or group that was normed at the time the test was validated. For example, a person who scored at the 50th percentile did better than 50 percent of that population.
A stanine score relates to the 9 equal distributions on the bell-shaped curve; a stanine of 5 being in the center and at the tallest part of the curve where most of the candidates fall.
In many basic skills assessments a grade level score is given. A grade score of 8.5 indicates that a candidate is comfortable reading at an eighth grade, fifth month level, either in vocabulary, comprehension or a combination of both. On some assessments the grade level PHS (post high school) is given, indicating that the candidate scored beyond 12th grade 9th month.
To assist in the determination of acceptable scores within a company, it is often helpful to do a "readability" on training materials that an employee will be required to read. Those materials may include training manuals, safety manuals or other printed literature that describe how an employee will be required to perform his/her duties.
When a candidate will be attending an apprenticeship program as a result of the assessments taken, it is helpful to know that most textbooks are written at approximately a 10th grade reading level and that someone who reads at a 9.0 may struggle a little with content but may still get through the text reasonably well. The math level at which fractions, decimals and percentages are mastered is approximately 8th grade. If these are the concepts required to begin an apprenticeship program or to function well within a job, this would be an appropriate level at which to establish an assessment cutoff.
As a reminder, the ultimate decision on establishing such cutoffs must come from each individual company and not from the unbiased assessment source contracted to administer the assessments.
Complete Sample Results-Apprenticeship Series (pdf)
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